A powerful earthquake shakes Turkey and Greece; Several deaths and hundreds of injuries reported.

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The earthquake was felt in several Turkish cities, mainly in the province of Izmir, where at least 26 deaths and the collapse of a dozen buildings were reported. In Greece, they confirmed the death of two other people and warned of major material damage on the island of Samos. So far, Turkish and Greek authorities have confirmed a total of 28 deaths from the earthquake.

In Izmir, 26 people died, most after the collapse of buildings, according to the Presidency for Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD, for its acronym in Turkish). At least 885 other people were injured.

The magnitude of the October 30 earthquake is still not entirely clear. The Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 and the US Geological Survey put the figure at 7.0. It is common for preliminary magnitudes to differ in the first hours and days after an earthquake.

What is clearer are the consequences left by the telluric movement. Izmir city mayor Tunc Soyer said about 20 buildings collapsed; while provincial governor Yavuz Selim Kösker told local media that so far around 70 people have been rescued from the rubble.

AFAD maintained that search efforts are continuing in 12 buildings. Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s central government stressed that two medical helicopters, 38 ambulances and more than 30 rescue teams are already working at the scene.

Another city that saw the aftermath of the earthquake was Seferihisar, located in Izmir province, where sea levels rose after the quake, as explained by Mayor Ismail Yetiskin. “There seems to be a small tsunami,” he told NTV television.

Videos circulate on social networks showing how the sea covers beaches and streets after the earthquake. One of these images is the one published by the local media ‘TRT Haber’.

The earthquake was also felt in other parts of Turkey such as the capital Istanbul, other cities on the Aegean coast and the Marmara region in the northwest of the country. Additionally, the earthquake shook several islands of Greece and was felt in Athens.

The consequences of the earthquake in Greece are concentrated in Samos

One of the hardest hit regions in Greece was the island of Samos, where two miners were reported dead. A boy and a girl were found unconscious in the village of Vathy, in an area where a wall had collapsed. Authorities later confirmed that the youths lost their lives and added that four other people were injured.

In addition, Greece’s anti-seismic planning entity advised the island’s nearly 45,000 residents to stay away from the coast and issued a tidal wave warning. “It was a very big earthquake, it’s hard for there to be a bigger one,” Eftyhmios Lekkas, the organization’s director, told the Greek press.

Firefighters stand next to damaged buildings in the port town of Vathy after an earthquake, on the island of Samos, Greece, October 30, 2020. © Samos24.gr via Reuters

Greek seismologist Akis Tselentis agrees with Lekkas that this telluric movement is perhaps the strongest seen in Greece in recent years and everything indicates that the disaster is not over yet. Tselentis warned state broadcaster ‘ERT’ that potentially powerful aftershocks are expected in the coming weeks given the shallow depth of the quake, which was around 10 kilometers.

Although the two countries are now linked by tragedy, Greek and Turkish authorities have a long-standing dispute over the ownership of potential hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean Sea. Those tensions erupted again after Turkey sent a vessel to explore disputed waters for oil.

However, in the face of the earthquake, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis reached out to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to talk about the effects of the natural disaster facing both nations.

“I have just called President Erdogan to offer him my deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life due to the earthquake that struck our two countries. Whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to be united”, declared the Greek president on his Twitter account. Ankara, for its part, added that the two countries are ready to help each other.

With Reuters, AP and EFE

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